Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘pet fox’

snuggly clive

Read Full Post »

clive being playful

So when we had Clive out today he urinated a few times outdoors, including up against a tree trunk of one the silver maples in front of the house.

I made dinner this evening, and we had a boarding client who was coming to pick up her dog. Jenna took the client dog out for one last good walk about an hour after the sun set.

She came running back in the house telling me that she could smell red fox urine very strongly, and after careful examination, we noticed red fox tracks coming from across the road into our front lawn.

Clive is never taken near the road. He attracts too much unwanted attention, and our local conservation officer doesn’t like getting calls about a fox he knows is perfectly permitted and licensed.  Plus, Clive could get spooked and pull his leash loose, and he would probably run into the road and be hit by a car.

So what happened was that a dog fox in the neighborhood caught wind of Clive’s markings around the silver maples.  Last summer, I smelled where a red fox had urinated on one of these trees, as did every single one of our dogs, so I knew they were in the area. But now that we have a tame young male fox, the local breeding male fox is less than impressed with the young upstart leaving those markings on turf.

Clive is attracting the attention of the neighbors. My guess is we’re going to see lots more of their sign and maybe catch a glimpse of them as the late winter red fox mating season winds up.

I doubt that any of the local reds are cross foxes. All the ones I’ve seen in Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania have been the normal phase reds. But the foxes don’t know what color they are. They just operate by their nose and their base instincts.

Clive can never go wild. He’s from a long line of fur farmed foxes, and if he were to be released, he’s so friendly with people that he’d probably be suspected of being rabid and killed on sight.

So here is another aspect of owning a tame fox. The local red foxes don’t really care that much for the tame ones, and virtually everyone in the continental US lives near red foxes. If you bring a tame one into your home, you will be upsetting the locals, and I don’t just mean your human neighbors either.

Read Full Post »

Playful Clive

We had Clive out today for a bit of fun. These photos should give you an idea of what his general temperament is. He is a total clown.

clive loves his ball

clive pounce

clive pounce 3

cute clive

clive pounce 2

clive on the run

clive teddy bear

ciive sniffing

snowy boy

Read Full Post »

Snowy face fox

Clive likes the snow!

snow face clive

Read Full Post »

Just a fox on a lead in a snowy land.

Read Full Post »

We have a fox

I’ve written many, many words about wild canids, but I’ve never lived with one.

Until now. Jenna asked me one morning if we could pick up a free fox that was being offered in Craig’s List.

And I didn’t say no…

So we got Clive, a cross phase red fox. His previous owners were feeding him cheap dog food and not the cat food he really needs to thrive. He also was being kept in a tiny dog crate. He now lives in a German shepherd-sized dog crate with lots of house time to run around.

I had no idea Ohio was so open to allowing people to keep pet foxes. You have to apply for a $25.00 permit through the Ohio DNR, and a conservation officer comes to your house and approves it. So Clive is fully legal through the state of Ohio. In Ohio, you can buy a fox from a breeder with your permit, but you cannot just catch little ones in the woods and try to make them pets.

Jenna and I have a lot of dog experience, but he’s still not fully domesticated. He likes to steal things and hide them, and if he decides an item is worth guarding from you, don’t try to take it. Also if you don’t keep his cage clean enough, it will smell like burning rubber. That’s what his glands smell like.

I wouldn’t recommend one of these to just anyone, but if you want something a little different, it’s worth looking into. 

Most states in the US are not as lax as Ohio when it comes to keeping foxes, so please consult your state’s wildlife agencies before trying to get one of your own.

This is the most interesting animal I’ve ever lived with. He wags his tail at you just like a dog, and he loves to have his ears rubbed. He gets those zoomie things that dogs get, which he does all over the house.

We don’t let him interact with the dogs, because he’s a bit stroppy, they are bit leery of him, and he’s pretty fragile. He’s really not much more than an Italian greyhound with lots of fluff.

He’s not a Belyaev domestic fox, but whoever bred him was definitely concerned with producing a fox that is fairly docile and friendly.

You may judge me for keeping such an animal, but I think we can provide him a far better home than just about anyone else who’d pick up a fox on Craig’s List.

I’ll be writing about him a lot more, and there will be Youtube video. I am looking into buying a gray fox from a breeder this next spring, which is sort of my dream animal.

So yes, we are crazy, Crazy to like foxes!

Read Full Post »

There are two basic reasons:

The first is that fennec foxes don’t have the same musk glands as other vulpine foxes.

That’s actually quite a plus.  Other foxes– especially red foxes– are known for producing an odor that smells something like that of a skunk.

Fennecs don’t produce that odor.

The other is that fennecs live in packs.

They don’t live in packs to hunt larger prey, but their family groups have essentially the same dynamics as a wolf pack.

A wolf pack is based upon a mated pair that have an intense pair bond, and virtually all the other animals in the pack are their grown offspring, which stay behind to take care of their younger brothers and sisters.

This same dynamic exists with fennec foxes.

With more than two adults to forage over the desert, the young fennec kits get more attention and more food than they would get if only their mother and father were caring for them.

Humans have already domesticated one dog species that has this particularly social arrangement.

It’s actually been suggested that reason why humans domesticated wolves so easily is that both humans and wolves have similar social arrangements. Both wolves and humans may have recognized as similarity in this regard, and the two species were able to form very close relationships.

Maybe something similar could happen with fennecs.

It’s certainly true that most fennecs in captivity today are derived from ancestors that were dug out of dens.

In North Africa, people have kept pet fennecs for centuries, but it’s been only in the past few decades that anyone thought of keeping them in the West.

They are still wild animals. Not all individuals have docile temperaments, even when bottle-raised.

But it seems to me that as these animals become a bit more established in the pet trade, there will be attempts to breed them with more docile temperaments.

Although we have domesticated populations of red and arctic fox, these animals are not widely available on the pet market (for the reasons I mentioned earlier).

But fennecs could become the second canid species to become established as a domestic animals.

All it will take is a large enough gene pool of captive individuals and a concerted effort to selectively breed them to be suitable pets.

This may sound a bit far-fetched, but when I was a child, it was impossible to buy golden hamsters– even those with fancy colorations and coat lengths– that were naturally disposed to be tame.

All of the hamsters I owned bit me at least once, and most bit at least once a month.

Today, you can go to a pet store and buy hamsters that have been selected for “low reactivity.”

Hamsters have been bred away from the grumpy little things that they are in the wild.

And what’s more, pet golden hamsters derive from only a single litter that was captured near Aleppo, Syria, in 1930.

They are perhaps the most inbred of all domestic animals, but even though they are inbred, they have been able to produce just enough genetic variation to produce unique coat lengths and colors and just enough variation in temperament to produce very gentle strains.

Captive fennec foxes have a broader genetic base than golden hamsters, so it may be possible to begin another canid domestication process.

We’ve done it before.

We can do it again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Arctic fox black and white

Arctic foxes are what is known as a opportunist specialists. Their diet is mostly meat, but they will get their meat anyway they can.

During the winter months, many Arctic foxes live like jackals, following the polar bears onto the ice and scavenging their kills.

Because of this trait, Arctic foxes are generally not above begging from people, which has proven to be the downfall of countless foxes. Trappers have been known to feed these foxes all through the summer. Then, when the foxes’ pelts have reached their prime, they dispatched them for their fur.

However, I have always thought this trait could mean that Arctic foxes could have been tamed rather easily. I looked for several accounts of them being kept as pets, and I found one that was rather interesting.

The following story comes from an 1874 book by William Henry Giles Kingston called Stories of Animal Sagacity:

Mr [Isaac Israel] Hayes, the Arctic explorer, had a beautiful little snow-white fox, which was his companion in his cabin when his vessel was frozen up during the winter. She had been caught in a trap, but soon became tame, and used to sit in his lap during meals, with her delicate paws on the cloth. A plate and fork were provided for her, though she was unable to handle the fork herself; and little bits of raw venison, which she preferred to seasoned food. When she took the morsels into her mouth, her eyes sparkled with delight. She used to wipe her lips, and look up at her master with a coquetterie perfectly irresistible. Sometimes she exhibited much impatience; but a gentle rebuke with a fork on the tip of the nose was sufficient to restore her patience.

When sufficiently tame, she was allowed to run loose in the cabin; but she got into the habit of bounding over the shelves, without much regard for the valuable and perishable articles lying on them. She soon also found out the bull’s-eye  [A thick, circular piece of glass set, as in a roof or ship’s deck, to admit light] overhead, through the cracks round which she could sniff the cool air. Close beneath it she accordingly took up her abode; and thence she used to crawl down when dinner was on the table, getting into her master’s lap, and looking up longingly and lovingly into his face, sometimes putting out her little tongue with impatience, and barking, if the beginning of the repast was too long delayed.

To prevent her climbing, she was secured by a slight chain. This she soon managed to break, and once having performed the operation, she did not fail to attempt it again. To do this, she would first draw herself back as far as she could get, and then suddenly dart forward, in the hope of snapping it by the jerk; and though she was thus sent reeling on the floor, she would again pick herself up, panting as if her little heart would break, shake out her disarranged coat, and try once more. When observed, however, she would sit quietly down, cock her head cunningly on one side, follow the chain with her eye along its whole length to its fastening on the floor, walk leisurely to that point, hesitating a moment, and then make another plunge. All this time she would eye her master sharply, and if he moved, she would fall down on the floor at once, and pretend to be asleep.

She was a very neat and cleanly creature, everlastingly brushing her clothes, and bathing regularly in a bath of snow provided for her in the cabin. This last operation was her great delight. She would throw up the white flakes with her diminutive nose, rolling about and burying herself in them, wipe her face with her soft paws, and then mount to the side of the tub, looking round her knowingly, and barking the prettiest bark that ever was heard. This was her way of enforcing admiration; and being now satisfied with her performance, she would give a goodly number of shakes to her sparkling coat, then, happy and refreshed, crawl into her airy bed in the bull’s-eye, and go to sleep.

Mr Hayes does not tell us what became of Birdie. I am afraid that her fate was a sad one (205-207).

Isaac Israel Hayes recounts the story of Birdie in The Open Polar Sea: A Narrative of a Voyage of Discovery towards the North Pole, an account of Hayes’s expedition in which he traveled into the Arctic Ocean on a schooner (that had a bull’s eye). It seems that Kingston wrote the story  about Birdie almost verbatim from Hayes’s account.

Most wild dogs that have not been widely persecuted by man are rather like Birdie. It is almost the rule that wild dogs from areas where they have no reason to fear humans are very curious about us.

***

This fox had not been raised in captivity. This fox had lived her life as a wild animal, but she was able to become as tame as any dog.

If wolves had similar proclivities thousands of years ago, domestication would have been very easy.  In fact, I think the reason why people were able to domesticate wolves so easily and so early in our history is because wolves really were easily tamed.

With the advent of agriculture, man began to persecute wolves, and this changed the way they behaved. We selected for nervous and reactive animals in the wolf population, and the animals became nearly impossible to tame.

Today, there are no wolf populations that have not experienced at least some of these selective pressures. Even the ones of the High Arctic, which are more approachable than those to the south, have experienced trapping, poisoning, and even the old Sarah Palin special.

The difference between dogs and wolves is that man selected dogs to become so tame and tractable that they have become like us, while man has selected wolves to be barmy, nervous, and reactive animals. The former was done through careful selective breeding, while the latter happened simply because we came up with lots of different ways to kill wolves.

The original wolf had to have been more like a dog than it is now. I could not have been the same animal that exists today. We simply could never have domesticated such an animal.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: